The Piano Project – hitting the right note of help for child refugees

Music can bring so much to children. It nurtures their creative side and gives an escape from the humdrum and stresses of everyday life. For a group of refugee children seeking safety in Australia, music is so much more. It’s an escape and refuge against the horrors they have seen and a promise that life will soon be better.

The Piano Project hosts recitals in unexpected places around inner Melbourne to raise money to sponsor piano lessons for refugee children.

Georgina Imberger had the idea and is bringing it to life with the help of good friend, Erica Martin. Their first concert, held last November in an abandoned workshop in Melbourne’s inner north, was a smash hit. Their next recital is set for this Sunday at North Melbourne’s Meat Market.

“We reckon that music is one of the great reasons to be alive,” Georgina tells Babyology.

“We hope that by organising these lessons for the kids, we can share a bit of this sentiment and also communicate that we are really glad that they’re in Australia and we hope that their lives here will be full and happy.”

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She says the purpose of the project is to offer asylum seeker children an opportunity and experience they might not otherwise have.

“We wanted to offer the kids something special and rich and something that celebrates future and possibility,” she says.

“For families who have sought safety in our country and are undergoing the extraordinary challenge of building a new life, often from scratch, extras like playing the piano are obviously often not possible.”

The Piano Project’s first recital raised more than $3000 and was held in November 2015 in an old motor repair workshop in Brunswick, in Melbourne’s inner north, with Daniel de Borah playing playing Haydn, Chopin and Prokofiev.

“He was magical,” Georgina says.

“The direct inspiration (for the recitals) comes from a place in Berlin that I love called Piano Salon Christophori, where classical is played every night in a brilliant old factory shell,” she says.

“Amongst pianos mid-restoration, tools, and other items of intrigue, there is a glass of wine on offer and musicians who are breathtakingly good. All walks of life wander in and it’s a fabulous atmosphere.”

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Aside from helping to engage the next generation of pianists, Georgine loves finding the perfect space for recitals.

“This is the fun part! I have my eye on all sorts of spaces – a factory for coffee brewing, a dramatic florist in an old workshop, the underground carpark at Melbourne Uni, disused shopfronts,” she says.

“I’m particular keen on finding venues where notes creep out into busy streetscapes and lure people in – how great would it be to be hooked by a crunchy Rachmaninoff chord while intending to pick up some milk from the corner store?”

The next recital will be held this Sunday (May 29) at 5.30pm at the Meat Market in North Melbourne.

Members of The New Palm Court Orchestra will play, lead by pianist/composer Gemma Turvey and with Gianni Marinucci on flugelhorn. Tickets are $20 and available from the Piano Project website.

Music really can convey a universal message, check out the Australian music school giving African children the same opportunities we often take for granted.

(Images via Anthony Rodriguez, Blacknote Photography)

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